Fun Home Characters: 6 People You Should Know

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Who are the Fun Home characters in Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir? How did each of these characters shape Alison’s life?

These Fun Home characters are Alison’s family members and notable people she mentioned throughout the book. Alison’s family was distant from one another, particularly her father.

Read more about the Fun Home characters and their roles in the book.

Fun Home Characters

These Fun Home characters were each a big part of Alison’s life. She explains her relationships with her family members, and how they changed over time. Each of the Fun Home characters plays an important role, even if it was a painful one.

Fun Home Characters: Family

These Fun Home characters are members of Alison’s family.

Bruce (Father)

Alison’s father was likely a closeted homosexual or bisexual man. Though he never directly expressed his sexuality to his family, Alison recognized a few behaviors that showed her father’s more feminine side throughout her childhood (such as his use of a bronzing stick). She implies that her father’s repression was a source of self-loathing and misplaced anger. She compares her father’s desire to create the image of a perfect home despite its disrepair to his desire to create the image of the perfect man despite his inner struggle.

Helen (Mother)

Alison experienced isolation within her own home. Her parents were both artistic. Her father had the house to fix. Her mother played piano and rehearsed for her productions. When she tried to interact with either of them, they would often ignore her to focus on their work. She describes her home as an artist’s colony in which each member of the family became consumed by their passion, but in isolation.

Grandmother

Alison and her brothers dubbed the funeral home the “Fun Home” because they usually had more fun in the funeral home than in their actual home. They played with the chair trolleys, the flower stands, and the smelling salts as they invented worlds of their own. Their grandmother lived in the back and the business was in the front. They would often spend the night at the “Fun Home” and have their grandmother tell them stories about their father’s childhood. 

Alison’s Brothers

Alison grew up with two brothers. Their father, a notably distant man, put more energy into working on their home than he did focusing on his family. When they first bought the house, it was falling apart, but he was determined to restore it to its former glory. He had an affinity for restoration, and, often, forced his family to help him with his projects. 

Other Characters

These additional Fun Home characters also had an important impact on Alison’s life.

Roy

Alison’s father tried to live a double life: one in which he was the perfect family man, and another in which he followed his sexual predilections. He would often take trips without Alison’s mother and bring his children and whatever boy was helping him with housework at the time.

For a while, this boy was Roy. He babysat the kids and helped Alison’s father with a variety of tasks. He accompanied them to the beach one year. After her father’s death, Alison found a photo of Roy taken during this trip by her father. In the photo, Roy is lying in bed wearing only his underwear. At the time, Roy was only 17.

Joan

Alison began to explore her sexuality in college. She checked out books from the library that discussed homosexuality and focused on the stories of lesbians. Her studies were both informational and erotic. She joined the gay union at her university and began dating her classmate, Joan.

Fun Home Characters: 6 People You Should Know

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Fun Home summary:

  • What it's like to grow up in a funeral home
  • Why Alison Bechdel suspected her dad was a closeted homosexual
  • Why Alison believes that her father's death may have been a suicide

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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